bshirk's Capcom Classics Collection (PlayStation 2) review

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Experience 22 Legendary Capcom Games


Not too long ago, I reviewed a collection of arcade games I found as delightful as a sleigh full of toys is to a six year-old. Despite the repetitious nature of its games, Capcom Classics Collection: Volume 2 impressed me with its eclectic cast of brawlers, shooters, platformers, and puzzlers. I had nearly as much fun reviewing those retro games as I did playing them, so I decided that I would repeat the process -- except this time with the original Capcom Classics Collection that I played one year prior. For bite-sized reviews of each delicious (and occasionally vomit-inducing) title, read on.

1942: Looks Like Your Great-Grandfather

Walking with a cane, constantly feeling helpless, and skin deterioration are all signs of the unpleasantness associated with aging. 1942 is fortunate not to have those symptoms, but it feels as old as the battle at Iwo Jima due to its bleeps and bloops and repetitive, unforgiving gameplay. 1942's 1984 sound effects are enough to make you desert the war, but it's unlikely that you'd stick around even without them due to its no-frills 2D flying-action and sparse checkpoints.

1943: A Significantly Improved 1942

If you enjoy co-op vertical-scrolling shooters, 1943 isn't a horrible game to play thanks to infinite continues, the ability to respawn where you die, and the addition of a power-up system to the 1942 formula. 1943's visuals and sound leave much to be desired, but at least beating the game is more likely than a non-smoker getting lung cancer.

1943 Kai: Throw in a Japanese Word and Call it a Day

1943 Kai is what 1943 should have been: It's a remake of 1943 with visuals and audio that are more suitable to its year of release. Kai also received a minor difficulty upgrade, but it's not enough to make you break your controller. Still, that doesn't change the fact that this remake will likely impress you as much as farting impresses your date.

Bionic Commando: No, This Isn't the NES Game

The NES Bionic Commando is a beloved classic to numerous gamers who grew up playing the NES, for good reason. It won gamers over with its wacky storyline, goofy character names, and gameplay that replaced jumping with a grappling hook. The arcade title has vastly different levels and less plot, but it's still a refreshing (albeit rudimentary) arcade game thanks to its grappling gameplay and being able to continue where you left off. Now if only it had Super Joe....

Commando: Not Recommended During High School Graduations

I've never gone commando before, but I have played this early arcade title that shares the same name. Commando is a vertical-scrolling shooter that has you playing as a lone operative who can gun down entire guerrilla armies and lob grenades. It's a challenging game due to its infrequent checkpoints and massive amounts of soldiers on-screen, but it's not a bad title for a masochist.

Exed Exes: If Only Losing Exes Was This Simple

Guess what type of game Exed Exes is? A vertical-scrolling shooter! But wait, don't run away yet; this game allows you to massacre bees and hornets -- my least favorite insects. This shooter gets repetitive quickly with its unoriginal boss fights and lame power-ups, but it looks pretty decent considering it came out in 1985. I definitely prefer flying through bee hives to 1942's empty blue backgrounds.

Final Fight: Includes the World's Only Likeable Politician

Remember the days when arcades had as many brawlers as YMCA locker rooms had people? If you do, you're probably familiar with the best street-style brawler in existence: Final Fight. Unlike Streets of Rage, Final Fight doesn't have a jazzy soundtrack, but it has large, colorful characters that animate smoothly. Final Fight is also held in high regard due to its excellent level design (for an old-school brawler), cool characters, and a diverse move-selection. These elements won't stop this brawler from getting repetitive, but you'll at least enjoy beating up street toughs and their hooker sidekicks for awhile.

Forgotten Worlds: Is It Possible to Forget an Unknown World?

This horizontal-scrolling, forgotten world contains slick visuals, dual-analog control, co-op gameplay, shopping, and massive bosses. What's not to like?

Ghosts N' Goblins: Mega Man Fans -- Prepare to be Humiliated

To hardcore gamers, being able to complete difficult titles is a status symbol. Just like someone with a Ferrari might like to cruise the strip, hardcore gamers like to gloat about their Ghost N' Goblins prowess by stripping to their underoos. Ghosts N' Goblins OGs like this series because of its legendary difficulty, catchy tunes, and spear-chucking gameplay. Most normal people on the other hand will want to avoid its difficult platforming, brutal boss fights, and an absurd amount of backtracking.

Ghouls N' Ghosts: Where Are My Goblins?

For those who enjoyed the insanely difficult Ghosts N' Goblins, Ghouls N' Ghosts is an excellent sequel. From a gameplay standpoint, it's an incremental improvement with similar platforming and gameplay, but this time, the hero can equip different weapons, which is useful for dealing with Ghouls' beefed up enemy roster. Topped off by more detailed environments, improved audio, and larger character sprites, Ghouls is not a bad experience for those who game in their boxers.

Gun.Smoke: Before Head Shots Existed

Alright ya rootin', tootin' cowboy, it's time to put down your lasso and pick up your revolver. Gun.Smoke has you blazing through auto, vertical-scrolling environments as a ranger Chuck Norris only wishes he could be. You move around the screen by using your trusty d-pad, but aiming is accomplished in an unconventional manner. To aim dead ahead or in diagonal angles, you simply press the appropriate face button. Despite this interesting control scheme, you probably won't have that great a time, because of Gun.Smoke's relatively few checkpoints and tough-as-nails bosses.

Legendary Wings: Someone's Wings Should Get Clipped

If you've made it this far, you're aware that Capcom Classics Collection has a seemingly infinite amount of vertical-scrolling shooters. I don't mean to surprise you yet again, but here's another. But wait -- Legendary Wings is actually unique, because you're a man who can fly through the air with his spectacular wings. Sadly, there really isn't anything legendary about this title other than the two minutes you'll spend playing it.

Mercs: Join Three Muscly Men As They Bare Their Chests With Pride

For those who're tired of standard vertical-scrolling shooters, Mercs will hit the spot. In Mercs (which is actually the sequel to Commando), you'll control three mercenaries who delve into the heart of Africa to rescue the United States president from murderous rebels. Mercs' plot may be drivel, but its three-player cooperative gameplay is a blast. Taking three characters through a jungle, mowing down anyone in your path is good, dumb fun, and the game even occasionally becomes exciting when your three players commandeer a jeep that looks as if it were the inspiration for Halo's Warthog.

Pirate Ship Higemaru: Decent Gameplay, Lame Pirates

I know what you're thinking, "What's an arcade compilation without a puzzle game?" Well, there's good news for you, as there's a decent pirate-puzzler in the Capcom Classics Collection. In Pirate Ship Higemaru, your goal is to take out pesky pirates who're swarming the deck by pushing barrels in their direction. This tiled puzzler that is similar in appearance to Bomberman is an interesting diversion, but don't play too much or you'll wish that pirates had forced you walk the plank.

Section Z: Superior to the NES Version

Are you tired of space-themed shooters that are only horizontal or vertical-scrolling experiences? If so, then you might want to try Section Z. Section Z has you controlling an astronaut who can immediately pivot to face foes trying to take him from behind. Your character can still only aim left or right, but this mechanic makes combat a bit more interesting. Also unique to Section Z is its 'letters of the alphabet'- themed environments that can scroll in any direction. Completing this unique title will take patience, as checkpoints are infrequent, but at least it's a rewarding experience.

Son Son: Capcom's Second Child

Son Son was the first Capcom game released in the U.S. (their second title in Japan), and it's actually a decent game. This auto-scrolling, horizontally-moving game has you controlling a character named Son Son, and your goal is to hop between different platforms -- grabbing food and dodging or shooting any enemies that stand in your way. It's a simple title, but it's charming and quite addictive.

Street Fighter 2: King of the Streets in 1991

If you mention the words 'fighting game,' most people immediately think of Street Fighter 2, and for good reason. This one-on-one 2D fighter was impressive during its time, because of its diverse character roster, large character sprites, and impressive move lists. Today, it moves at a slower pace than what most gamers are used to, but for fighting fans, it's still worth revisiting this series' epic beginning (let's pretend the original Street Fighter doesn't exist).

Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition: Evildoers, Rejoice!

Remember how Street Fighter 2 only let you control goody-two shoes like Blanka? Fans had long clamored for control of the Street Fighter 2 villains, and their wish was finally granted less than a year later with Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition. This fighting game breakfast of champions introduced the dictator M. Bison, Ryu's nemesis Sagat, a Mike Tyson lookalike named Balrog, and an effeminate Spanish dude named Vega. As if being able to play as these baddies weren't already enough, Championship Edition also added a number of new moves.

Street Fighter 2 Hyper Fighting: Perfect For a Wild Child

Throngs of Street Fighter 2 fans whined that the original was too slow after experiencing some rare game mods, so they were happy to get their hands on Hyper Fighting, which added turbo and further refined Street Fighter 2's gameplay. For some fans, these changes weren't monumental, but few can argue that Hyper Fighting is one balanced fighting game.

Super Ghouls N' Ghosts: And You Thought This Series Couldn't Get Any Harder

By now, you're aware that the Ghost N' Goblins series is quite hard, but even that knowledge won't prepare you for this devilish title that makes climbing Mt. Everest look easy. In Super Ghouls, you're given a double jump that'll help you leap over enemies, but its platforming is considerably more difficult than that of its predecessors. Good luck making it past the rafting segment.

Trojan: Doesn't Provide Enough Pleasure

It's been awhile since we've encountered an original side-scrolling brawler in this compilation, so there's no better time to introduce this Trojan Horse. Trojan is old-school in appearance, but it's interesting because it allows you to block with your shield, strike with your sword, and jump. The game's rock-paper-scissors-esque combat feels unique, but unfortunately it's based more on luck than skill. By the time you've reached the final level, you'll feel like you've fallen off your steed.

Vulgus: America, Meet Capcom's First Game

Vulgus isn't the prettiest name for a game title, but what do you expect from an arcade game released in 1984? This oddly named vertical-scrolling shooter is a bit generic with its spaceship and barren wastelands, but it's interesting in that it allows you to scroll the environments to the side a bit as well. While playing Vulgus, you'll mostly be focused on your point total as you would with a number of other classics from the early '80s, but it's still an oddly satisfying shooter despite its shortcomings.

The Verdict

A number of these Capcom Classics Collection titles share the stretch marks of Octomom, but they're fun experiences when played in short bursts. Capcom Classics Collection has more shooters and fighting games than its second iteration, but if those types of games appeal to you, it's a great buy. While playing, you should expect to encounter a mundane title now and then, but the majority of these games can be quite addictive. Fortunately, you no longer have to feel ashamed of your arcade addiction, as this title will cost you a paltry ten dollars instead of several stacks of quarters.

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